Categories
Product Management SaaS

The Future of SaaS and Enterprise Software

Most of the SaaS and Enterprise software is built mostly for single-purpose or single-user workflows.

In a cloud-first and remote-first work environment, we need a different kind of software.

All SaaS and Enterprise software will need to be:

• Intelligent out of the box
• Collaborative and real-time
• Deeply integrated across other workflow apps
• Secure & privacy enabled
• Super intuitive & delightful to use

These are “table stakes” requirements now.

Categories
Entrepreneurship SaaS Startup

There is No Plan B

When I was doing customer-development and searching for a co-founder for Avoma, people often asked me – “Are trying to throw this idea on a wall and see if it sticks?”

I hated that question.

There was no Plan B for Avoma.

I strongly believed in the problem with extensive customer research and the gap in the market.

I had a point of view to solve this problem and an ambitious vision of what the world would look like in 5-10 years.

I left the high-salaried full-time job without having a co-founder for 6 months, without having a prototype, or any sort of commitment and clarity on any milestone.

I never doubted my vision and the opportunity even though we had very (I mean really “very”) highly-funded competitors.

We had many investors rejected us because we had “many” highly-funded competitors who had already launched and were ahead of us in the market.

There is not even a single day since Avoma’s inception I ever thought about a Plan B.

There is no Plan B.

Categories
Entrepreneurship SaaS Sales Startup

I Have Fallen In Love with Selling

I’m an engineer by training. But have fallen in love with selling.

Here is why.

Selling is personal. Share your stories. Be vulnerable.

Selling is interpersonal. Meet new people. Build relationships.

Selling is collaborative. Get help from colleagues. Strategize with the team.

Selling is disciplined. Be consistent. Make and keep promises.

Selling is scientific. Follow the process. Learn from the best.

Selling is artistic. Be creative and solve problems. Make it unique.

Selling is hard. Face many rejections. Persevere until you succeed.

Selling is addictive. Win one, two, ten. Keep winning more.

Selling is rewarding. Create impact. Make companies successful.

Selling is mysterious. Wonder why it worked. Diagnose why it didn’t work.

Categories
Entrepreneurship SaaS Startup

Hiring for Passion, Not for Skills

In Nov 2019, we were a team of 7 people at Avoma, then by Jan 2020, we were a team of 13 people, and then by Mar 2020, we were 10 people again.

And no, these reductions are not due to COVID, but what I believe is due to passion (or lack of it).

Early-stage startups are a different beast (note, I didn’t say “hard”).

They require a different level of combination of skills and passion.

I think the mistake we made was – we primarily hired for skills and experience on resume.

But we didn’t hire for passion and grit.

We can teach new skills, product knowledge, subject domain, strategies, tactics, etc.

But I don’t think we can teach passion, drive, or grit.

I believe we should hire for passion and grit.

And then bridge the gap for skills and domain knowledge if there is any.

Categories
SaaS Sales

Playing Chess and Selling

My 8-year old daughter has learned to play Chess during this quarantine to keep the screen time under control. 😀

So I’ve been playing Chess with her pretty much every day and realized how similar it is to Selling.

As a Chess player and as a Salesperson, you have to:

1. Think several moves ahead

2. Have a game plan

3. Follow the steps, and not play for a quick win

4. Be flexible with your plan and adjust the course as per new scenarios

5. Learn from others’ game plans and strategies

6. Practice, practice, and more practice with different types of players

7. Play with confident body language

8. Be patient, resilient, and still stay sharp

The only thing that’s different is – in Chess, another person is your opponent.

In Sales, you and prospect are on the same team.

So in Chess, you aim for a win.

In Sales, you aim for a win-win.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Marketing Philosophy Product Management SaaS Sales Startup

Know More

What separates a great salesperson from a good one?

It’s the same thing for a marketer, copywriter, engineer, lawyer, surgeon, and many others.

They know more.

There are only 3 ways they can know more:
1. They have more experience
2. They seek more knowledge
3. They continuously apply their knowledge

1. The hack to gain more experience at less age is to be more curious and take risks to work at small-scale companies.

The first job I got in 2002 after college was with one of India’s largest IT providers – Infosys.

I left it in 8 months, took a 40% pay cut, and went to work for a 100 person company.

2. The hack to seek more knowledge is to have a growth mindset and devour as many books and training as possible on the subject matter.

I’m an engineer by education, but people get surprised by how much I know about UX Design principles, Sales methodologies, or Copywriting.

All credit goes to reading a lot of books and taking online courses.

3. The hack to apply more knowledge is to try more in your day job but also do side hustles.

The only way I became an SW engineer from an HW engineer, or a product manager from an engineer, or a salesperson from a PM is – my side hustles.

So invest in yourself and know more than others.

Categories
Product Management SaaS Sales

The Extra Effort Commitment

When we had launched Avoma, we allowed anyone to sign-up with their personal email address to try it out.

But now we stopped doing that and have added more friction. Here is why…

It’s about “The Extra Effort” they have to take to demonstrate their commitment.

With the previous approach, people were not committed.

We would follow-up with them, but they would not reply.

Neither they used Avoma actively, nor they bought it.

That makes sense, as they didn’t have any meetings on their personal calendar.

They just wanted to “check it out.”

And we had many competitors also who signed up with their personal or random email addresses “to get inspiration”. 👀😀

And it was our mistake in the first place to keep it open.

But it’s better late than never.

We finally decided to block signups from personal email addresses.

Yes, we are going to piss-off a few people and disappoint them.

Yes, we are adding more friction to the user experience.

But we want people who are willing to take that “extra effort of commitment” with Avoma.

If you sign up with your work email address, we will strive to deliver the best possible experience for you.

Sometimes you have to add more friction to provide the best experience to the right customers.

Categories
Entrepreneurship SaaS Sales Startup

Pain Killer Vs Vitamin

Is exercising a pain killer or a vitamin? 🏋️‍♂️

Is a reading book a pain killer or a vitamin? 📖

Is eating nutritious food a pain killer or a vitamin? 🥗

Is playing sports a pain killer or a vitamin? ⛹️‍♂️

Is meditating a pain killer or a vitamin? 🧘‍♂️

All things that are essential to living a happy and healthy life don’t seem to be a pain killer. 🤔

Then why the heck while running a business, everyone advises buying only a pain killer? 🧐

Isn’t it too late to buy a pain killer to fix your broken organization?🤦‍♂️

Shouldn’t you actually be investing in running a better organization and making sure it doesn’t break all the time? 🤔

Of course, you can still buy a pain killer (or a band-aid) occasionally when the organization breaks. 💊🩹

But why be reactive when you can be proactive? 🤷‍♂️

Categories
SaaS Startup

Replying to Customer Support Issues as a CEO

As a CEO of a SaaS company, one of the most gratifying things I enjoy is – replying to Customer Support issues.

It helps me to stay grounded.

It helps me to be empathetic.

It helps me to understand what they truly care about.

It helps me to work harder to fix issues in our product, messaging, documentation, and more.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Product Management SaaS Sales Startup

Business Strategy Framework

“Business Strategy Framework” is a framework about how you think about your focus and strategy for Engineering Platform, Product, and your Go-To-Market.

a close up of text on a white background

Let’s consider an example. At Avoma, we’re building an AI-meeting assistant.

From a use-cases perspective, there are many different kinds of meetings. Everyone’s workflows, pain points, and needs are very different.

When we decided to build Avoma, obviously, we could have built a horizontal AI meeting assistant to serve every single meeting use case.

But that would have been a bad business strategy, especially when you’re a startup and just starting out 😀.

Instead,
• We built the engineering platform and AI tech in the most scalable way to evolve into future use cases

• From the product perspective, we decided to focus on only customer-facing (Sales & Customer Success) external meetings

• From the GTM perspective, we reach out to the VP of Sales and Customer Success persona

Hope you’ll find this framework helpful when you make strategy and prioritization decisions in your company.